Thursday, April 17, 2014

Controlling the Beast of Social Media by Betsy Ashton

Writers face a daily dilemma: how much time to spend on social media marketing books and how much time in writing new ones. Our agents press us for new manuscripts which have to be written, edited and re-edited before we submit to the agent. Once the agent passes the multi-edited manuscript to the publisher, the writer faces additional edits and proof reads. At the same time as we are preparing the current WIP for publication, we are expected to be working on the next manuscript. The juggling act is worthy of the Ringling Bros center ring.

We are expected to have a presence on social media. Facebook. Twitter. LinkedIn. The next social media fad. Publishers tell us we need a platform we can exploit for book sales. No platform seems good enough. They pressure us to expand, spend more time in social media. Out on speaking engagements we set up. Out on book tours we set up. Out in signing events we set up. Tweet all the time. Post all the time. Blog all the time.

Some writers hit the daily slide into the social media sand trap and emerge hours later or not at all. If I don't set limits, I'll "check my mail and posts on FB" before I begin writing. I'll answer only critical messages, look at the most important posts on my timeline. Oh, look, how cute is that kitten. I love kitties. I respond. Before I know it, I need more coffee. What? Two hours flew by? It can't be.

I decide I'll watch the clock in the corner of the computer screen. Right next to that wonderfully snarky post from one of my favorite FB friends. Someone is following me on Twitter? I have to check out this intelligent person who finds me worthy of a follow. I tweet back, receive a response and trip lightly into conversation that goes nowhere but takes time.

I don't suffer from writer's block. I don't have ADD or ADHD. I love writing, but those snarky Maxine comics must be read.

I put my foot down. No more wasting time. Watching the clock was a failure. I asked my husband for a special present two Christmases ago. I wanted a special egg timer. Mine has blue sand and flows for 15 minutes. When the sand of time runs out, I switch off my wi-fi and get back to work.

Oops. Time's up. What works for you?


Betsy Ashton is the author of Mad Max Unintended Consequences published in March 2013 by Koehler Books.


Margo Hoornstra said...

You're right, Betsy. It is brutally simple to get caught up in the time suck of social media. Yet another reason to call on our ever dwindling store of willpower.

Alicia Dean said...

I SO feel your pain. Social Media, the computer in general, can be such a time suck. I tell myself not to get on email or Facebook or Twitter when I sit down to write, but I seldom listen to myself. :) Thanks for the reminder and the great post!

Jannine Gallant said...

I check email and do all my promo stuff first thing. Then I start writing and sneak back to check email and FB (don't forget stalking Amazon rankings!)periodically throughout the day. I try not to stay on for long though--just a quick peek...yeah, sure!

Diane Burton said...

I can't just sneak a peek at FB or email or Twitter. I like the egg timer, Jannine. Maybe that's what I need.

Leah St. James said...

So true. So true. Add a crazy full-time day job in there, and the writing time whittles down to nothing. I think I'm going to add that egg timer to my birthday list!

Unknown said...

I'm glad to know I am not the only one who ends up spending too much time on email and social media. The egg timer sounds good, but perhaps need to go get my oldest son's alarm clock. It's one he purchased at a truck stop. Oh my goodness! That thing is horrible! It would wake the whole neighborhood! That is why he doesn't use it here. Instead, I get him up at 3 am. That thing should get me off of fb, etc!